Extremists may seek to hijack State Duma polls – minister

Extremist youth groups may attempt to exploit Russia’s upcoming parliamentary election campaign, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev warned on Thursday.

He said he could not rule out that extremists would try to use the polls to “achieve their sordid goals.”

Nurgaliyev also warned of possible terrorist attacks and ethnic tensions in the period leading up to the December 4 polls. President Dmitry Medvedev has previously called inter-ethnic violence a threat to Russia’s stability.

The issue of right-wing extremism in Russia was highlighted earlier this week when a group of ultranationalist youths were sentenced to between 10 and 25 years in jail for the brutal murders of at least 27 members of ethnic minorities. The long sentences were welcomed by rights groups, who had previously accused the authorities of not doing enough to tackle race-hate crimes.

Simmering tensions between ethnic Russians and migrants from the country’s mainly Muslim North Caucasus exploded last year after the murder of a football fan in Moscow.

Some 5,000 nationalists and football fans later rioted near Red Square.

The trial of the six North Caucasus youths accused of the murder of Spartak Moscow fan Yegor Sviridov began on July 4 and is expected to last months.

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